Posts Tagged ‘Steve Schwarz’


February 4, 2016

This is a wicked strange winter we’ve been having. One day it’s warm… next day it’s cold. I’ve never seen anything like it.

I’ve been staying busy busy. And, I’m having a lot of fun getting the National Dog Agility League going. We’re up to about 500 runs a month.

We’ve published another episode of the Top Dog League Review program. You can find the program here: This program focuses on the 60×90 “C” competition; a competition intended for Intermediate to Masters level challenges. The video publishing effort is still amateurish but I’m learning the tools as we move along.

Tech Tools

The extensive use of YouTube recording by our member clubs makes the Review possible. I had an exchange with Brenda Gilday about the use of “short links”. When publishing a series of YouTube recordings for your league team the editing page on YouTube will provide short links for each. The alternative url is the long line of text that appears at the top of the browser.

Anyhow, Brenda told me that she couldn’t figure out how to find the short link, so I popped over to my YouTube account… and sure enough, I couldn’t find the short links as readily as you can when you’re uploading a list of files.


It turns out that there is a utility on the internet which will take your long url and turn it into a short link / small url. It doesn’t cost anything, and it’s easy to use:

Bitly turned this:,

into this:

Active Presenter

This is program that I use for capturing a region of the computer screen and turning it into video; and of course Active Presenter allows you to record a voice over. They have a free low end version of the program that does everything I need to do. Frankly it probably does a lot more that I could actually use, if I ever could set aside some time to study properly.

I mention this program because I’m going to ask our February games masters, Steve Schwarz and Wayne Van Deusen to do a review of their courses from the designer’s POV. I’d like to use their analysis (rather than my analysis) for future Review programs.

[[Steve has published training sequences based on the set of equipment for his 50×50 challenge in his popular blog: … I should have short-linked that url with Bitly! ]]

What I did in my course review for January… I saved the course map as a bitmap and opened it in Paint. This allowed me to use big sloppy brush strokes to describe the dog’s path. That’s a tool you just won’t find in the Clean Run Course Designer.

Window’s Live Movie Maker

My “movie” editing software is a free thing that Microsoft bundled with Windows 8. It’s primitive but has much of the functionality that I need. Though, I haven’t figured out how to edit or change the sound track… and I don’t properly know how to do transitions between scenes.

I’ll give Steve Lewis a shout on the topic just to see if he has words of wisdom for me [you’ll recall that Steve did the video productions for the USDAA Nationals back in the day.] He’ll likely wince at my productions but he’s too polite to really blast me.

I believe that Active Presenter will probably do much of the editing that I need. Maybe I should study it a bit more. I’m kind of stuck with a problem here… I bought a new computer with Windows 10. And, not only does Microsoft no longer support Window’s Live Movie Maker… but it is incompatible with Windows 10.

Windows 10

I pretty much hate it. WTF

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The web store is up and running. You’ll find in the web store The Book of Agility Games, an invaluable reference to clubs engaged in league play.

League Course Coaches Notes

May 21, 2015

The league course for the month is a painfully technical numbered sequence that stresses skills of an “International” flavor. Now that I’ve scared the crap out of you… let’s talk about solving this riddle.

Take a moment to inspect the course and think through your own handling solution. I’ll follow up with a bit-by-bit briefing of my own.

This course might lull the handler out of any sense of urgency in his own movement. It is useful to consider when practicing the course in walk-through that movement is both direction and motive to the dog. Take note of how many errors occur on this course if the handler is: A) standing still; or B) facing the wrong direction; or C) both.


The Opening: 1-4

The opening is actually fairly simple, but not without risk.


First of all, you should make the dog’s approach through the first two jumps as straight a line as possible. There’s no good reason to demand a turn between jumps #1 and #2 when they line up neatly. You could, from the start, use a bit of parallel path pressure that will allow you to be in position on the landing side of jump #3 for the turn to the tunnel.

After jump #2 there are two jumps looming as wrong course options. The handler needs to work the turn until the dog’s nose comes around to address the #3 jump. Another wrong course option is open to the dog after jump #3, that wingless jump sitting out there without a number.

Jump #3 is a bar most likely to get dumped in this opening. The handler might be guilty of unproductive loitering on the landing side of the jump, engaging in antics that draw the dog into handler focus, when he really needs to be in obstacle focus.

If the handler can pre-cue the turn after jump #3 the dog should neatly make the turn into the pipe tunnel. The contest will be won or lost in how efficiently the handler can cue the dog into his turns.

Transition to the Weaves: #4 to #6

In this short sequence the handler might need a single change of sides to the dog. The riddle is how and where to make that change of sides.


Don’t take the #5 jump for granted, the flow will not have much natural logic to the dog. The handler has little time and less room to turn the dog to the jump. It might help the handler to realize that he needs to allow the dog to carry through the jump so that when turned back to the weave poles the approach is not too perpendicular.

It’s possible for the handler to pre-cue the right turn out of the tunnel with a “backy-uppy” presentation of the pipe tunnel. The efficacy of this presentation might border on theoretical. But theory becomes practice if tested in training with the dog.

To get the change of sides the handler might Front Cross on the approach to jump #5; or Cross on the landing side of #5 as the dog is making his approach. Another possibility: the handler could approach jump #5 with dog on left, using a Tandem Turn (rear cross on the flat) after the jump. In either choice for the change of sides it is the handler’s job to shape the dog’s turn and approach to the weave poles.

Midcourse: #6 to #11

This is the closing of the first half of a course which has been a series of technical bits fitting together like puzzle pieces.


#7 is a Backside. The dog will be spying that #7 jump all the while he is weaving. The handler has about 8′ of real estate after the weave poles to convince the dog that we’ll be taking the jump from the opposite side. A real bold handler might push the dog on his right lead out of the weave poles, and race into a Blind Cross to create an approach that slices through jump #7 and neatly on to jump #8; and wouldn’t it be nice to have dog-on-left after jump #8?

The #9 cone is in the center of the U-shaped pipe tunnel which traditionally means that the entry from either side is dog’s choice. We would probably really like the dog to go into the left side, because this lines the dog up in a nice straight line through jumps #10 and #11.

However, don’t push too hard after he turns back from the #8 jump. Just a bit of pressure might put the dog wrong course over the #10 jump.

The Closing

The second half of the course is a technical jumping sequence that challenges my course memorization skills. It’s a good idea to shape-to-shape the sequence to simplify the memory of it. I’ll try to demonstrate “shape-to-shape”.


Pinwheel ~ #11-12-13 is a three-jump pinwheel.


Serpentine ~ #13-14-15 a three-jump serpentine. Note that the #15 jump is a modest Backside.


Bow Tie ~ #16-17-18-19 starts with wrap on the landing side of jump #16. There really isn’t any compelling wrong course option to the dog in the turn. The handler would like to get the dog to wrap tight and turn back neatly.

This might be solved with a simple Front Cross, but… mindful of the wrong-course option (#12) after jump #17 I’ll probably call my dog into a counter-clockwise Back Pass, shaping his a flat trajectory to #17 that helps leave off the wrong course jump.

After jump #18 the handler will pull across the box to the finish. Be mindful that the #16 jump looms as a final wrong course option.


So the simple memorization trick is to “chunk” the course shape-by-shape, making the second half of the course easy to memorize: Pinwheel to Serpentine to Bow Tie.

This is a tough course for a “pure for motion” dog. So the riddle becomes how to stay in motion and communicate to the dog the order and direction of obstacles. The Captain Obvious notation: if you are standing still it’s unlikely that you are moving well.

In The Meantime

Kory is a bit lame today, so I did not get to run the course. Obviously I did obsess over it a bit. I’m off in the morning to judge a USDAA trial up in Schenectady. My class will run league on Monday. I’ll run it when I get back.

I did have the usual time to train our young girl Cedar:

Blog1012 Home

Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The web store is up and running. You’ll find in the web store The Book of Agility Games, an invaluable reference to clubs engaged in league play.